TAIPEI – Malaysia and Vietnam intend to sign a memorandum of understanding that experts say could eventually help ease a decades-old, six-party dispute over sovereignty in the resource-rich South China Sea. Maritime law enforcement agencies from the two Southeast Asian countries aim to sign the memo this year and resolve at least 15 years of trouble over the movement of Vietnamese fishing vessels, the official Bernama news agency in Malaysia reported in early April. Bernama quoted the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director-general saying he’s confident the deal, now in its final stages, will solve the issue of Vietnamese fishing boats that enter Malaysian-claimed waters. Vietnamese boats are known for fishing in waters off the peninsular Malaysian east coast, leading Malaysian authorities to detain 748 vessels and 7,203 Vietnamese crew members from 2006 through 2019, Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Ministry says on its website. The ministry calls the "encroachments" a violation of Malaysia's sovereignty. If the memo helps both sides, their cooperation could eventually go deeper and enable them to resist the sea’s militarily strongest claimant, China — or work alongside it — some analysts believe. Deals to date call for joint use of parts of the sea, set up joint crime-fighting… Read full this story
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